The Art Of Falling: The Most Valuable Lesson You Ever Learn
If you watch a baby trying to learn to walk, you'll lose track of how long they spend falling and getting back up. They never give up. They simply learn from mistakes and keep going until they get it right. But, as we get older, if we try something and it doesn't work out, it can feel like a disaster!
My mum's unusual lessons stayed with me forever. She always taught me to learn from mistakes. If you fall over, you have to learn to get back up.
Having Cerebral Palsy means I have fallen over a lot in my lifetime. I’m now pretty much a full-time wheelchair user, so I am much less likely to fall these days. But back in the day, I was always losing my balance.
If you fall, you get back up
My mum was forever teaching me to be as independent as possible. This didn’t stop when it came to me falling over. For example, if I fell over in a supermarket (from tripping over a frozen pea or something). My mum would, of course, check that I wasn’t hurt, first. Then she would walk off down the aisle. Of course, other people would see me on the floor and rush to try and help me. My lovely mum would tell these people, who looked shocked, to leave me because I could get myself up. I could tell the shoppers felt uncomfortable about leaving a disabled kid on the supermarket floor. But they did as they were told.
As time went on, I started to find this funny, and one day I said, “mum you have to stop doing this”.
It doesn’t all end if you make a mistake
My poor, well meaning, mum could not work out what she was doing wrong. This is because she is well meaning, of course. She knew why people would be horrified (she was laughing too) but didn't know WHY she needed to stop doing what she was doing. All will become clear in a second.
So I explained, through my laughter...
“Because you look like a mean parent walking away. Leaving your poor (ha) disabled child to get herself off the floor,” I explained.
She looked genuinely confused and said, “huh! But I’m just trying to teach you a lesson.”
I was laughing at this point and told her I didn’t know what she was teaching. While choosing which cereal to buy she explained her lesson:
“one day, Fran, you will end up falling over, and no-one will be around to help you get up. So, you have to learn different ways to get yourself up. That way every time you fall over, nothing will stop you from getting up. Failing over will be no big deal to you."
It is precisely the same with life in general: sometimes things will go wrong, and you’ll feel like you’ve failed. But if you keep searching for new ways to get yourself up, nothing will ever stop you. Sometimes things will go wrong, and you’ll feel like you’ve failed. Exactly the same as a child learning to walk and getting back up. Never regret making mistakes, it's all part of a growth mindset. Instead learn from mistakes.
You know what, I still, to this day, find any way possible to pick myself up and carry on
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